“Cities can reduce both air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and ozone through a range of measures that benefit health very immediately and climate in the near term.”Dr. Carlos Dora, Coordinator of WHO’s air quality, public policies and health work.
Walking and cycling networks make trips by foot or bicycle safer and more accessible, preventing pollution from vehicles, traffic injuries, and promoting better health through physical activity.
Shifting people to more efficient forms of transport, including bus rapid transit, light rail and other forms of shared transportation dramatically reduces air pollution by cutting down on private vehicle use and emissions.
Raising emissions standards for all vehicles takes heavy polluters off the road and drives market pressures for cleaner vehicles, as well as innovation for cleaner technologies. Reducing high-sulfur fuels in many emerging economies is an important first step.
“Soot-free” vehicles reduce tailpipe particulate/black carbon emissions by 85% or more, as compared to uncontrolled diesel exhaust. Soot-free vehicles are typically vehicles certified to Euro VI or US 2010 emission levels, including electric drive or hybrid engines, compressed natural gas (CNG), biogas/other biofuels, or diesel engines with a functioning diesel particle filter.
Landfill gas recovery is an innovative, renewable energy option that actually harnesses harmful landfill emissions rather than allowing them to enter the atmosphere or our lungs.
Improving wastewater treatment and sanitation provisions, both in the home and in industry, can make an enormous difference in reducing infectious disease risks.
Cleaner-burning biomass stoves and other low-emission fuels or stove types improve air quality in the home and the community, and lower risk of burns or other injuries.
Electric lighting, including PV solar rooftop panels, reduces reliance on kerosene lamps that emit heavy concentrations of harmful black carbon and other air pollutants.
Reducing the need for extra heating or cooling by designing homes that take advantage of the sun’s natural warming and fresh air ventilation for cooling can help minimize a home’s air pollution and carbon footprint.
Renewables directly improve air quality while slowing climate change. For example, rooftop PV solar systems in off-grid rural areas or fast-growing cities with unreliable energy supply is a clean, and cost-effective alternative to heavily polluting portable diesel generators.
The fine particles and black carbon emitted by diesel vehicles and engines can be virtually eliminated through technologies that are already present on half of new heavy-duty vehicles sold today.
Kilns used for firing bricks are heavy polluters of black carbon and put workers at increased risk for respiratory illness, but new kilns are being used that can cut emissions by up to half.
Coke ovens used to produce some metals emit toxins that can increase cancer risk. However, emissions can be captured for power generation and help minimize what is entered into the atmosphere
Fugitive emissions occur from leaks or the burning off of excess gas through flaring. Ongoing maintenance and new monitoring and detection technology can limit unnecessary emission from industry.
Intermittently drying out rice paddies, which traditionally were flooded year-round, can significantly cut methane emissions, while also reducing breeding grounds for disease-bearing mosquitoes and other vectors.
Waste “digestors” extract methane from livestock waste and sewage converting emissions into a clean energy source. Manure can also be used as fertilizer to improve crop production, moderate methane release and prevent the spread of disease.
Waste management programmes to prevent open burning from crop waste and domestic and municipal waste such as paper and plastics, avoids dangerous pollutants from being released into the air, including black carbon.
Policies that promote diets rich in plant-based foods, particularly among middle- and high-income populations with plentiful food choices, can lower healthcare costs while reducing methane emissions from livestock production.
Separating and composting biodegradable food waste reduces methane emissions from landfills, and can also be used as a source of fertilizer for local agriculture.